A fresh start for pibroch inclusion

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J. David Hester.
J. David Hester.

The altpibroch website, which has lain dormant since the death of ceòl mòr scholar J. David Hester, has been rebranded and relaunched as The Pibroch Network.

The website curates a network of digital resources devoted to the learning, teaching, performance and wider public appreciation of pibroch.

Known as The Alt Pibroch Club since May 2013, altpibroch.com was a suite of websites that were, essentially a collaboration between Hester and the piper and academic, Barnaby Brown. The network stood still for two years following Hester’s untimely death in 2019. Thanks to a grant from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the creative energy of a small start-up team, a rejuvenation process began in September 2021.

The team, which includes Brown, Professor Joshua Dickson, Keith Sanger, Lindsay Davidson, James Carnegie, Stuart Letford and John Frater among others, last night held its first online discussion about the mission, vision and values of this outstanding resource. Discussions will continue over the next two months. Mr. Brown kicked off last night’s discussion by paying tribute to Hester.

Barnaby Brown.

The Pibroch Network has the support of institutions such as the universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and Cambridge as well as the National Records of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, the Carnegie Trust and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. It aims to:

  • Make available colour high-resolution images of all musical materials sources.
  • Provide a definitive edition of the Campbell collection, based on the research of Roderick Cannon.
  • Populate a Pibroch Wiki site – a long-term development project that would encompass archival documents and records, including estate records, legal documents, the earliest-surviving accounts of the events commemorated in the tunes.

The latter is intended to become the authoritative site for all historical information regarding pibroch, composers and famous performers.

The Pibroch Network seeks to make it easier to learn, discuss, teach and research ceòl mòr. Its aim is for a world in which pibroch features in mainstream education and performance – rather than dwelling on the edge, if at all – and is valued internationally.

Barnaby Brown was the first Highland piper to apply the principles of the early music movement to pibroch. He is currently writing a pibroch PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge.